The 2015/16 season was special for Kelechi Iheanacho as he mesmerized the football world with his outstanding show of football artistry on his debut in the premier league.
The world quickly caught the buzz of the then 19-year-old who only a few years ago had joined from the Golden Eaglets’ of Nigeria after helping them to win the Under-17 World Cup where he was named Player of the Tournament, scoring six and assisting seven goals.Read Also | Everton enter race for Iheanacho
Former Manchester City manager, Manuel Pellegrini gave him a chance during the pre-season and he showed his class, winning the trust of the Chilean who wasn’t afraid of letting more establish players’ like Eden Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic and Wilfred Bony leave the Etihad to create space for the growth of Iheanacho.
The Nigerian gladly accepted the challenge and in his first season with the Citizens he scored 14 goals in all competitions which included the crucial goal against Swansea City on the final day of the premier league season that confirmed qualification to the UEFA Champions League.
He followed up his performances in Cup games and netted a famous hat-trick against Aston Villa and the British press was immediately caught in the web of a daring comparison with one of their emerging talents, Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford who also turned up about the same period.
Iheanancho finished the season with a minute per goals ratio which was better than Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski but unfortunately at the end of the season, Pellegrini was fired and Pep Guardiola took charge of the team.
Fast forward to 2017, the high hopes for a fantastic City career has since diminished with the Nigerian desperately out-of-favour for the former Barcelona manager who painted a false picture when he first arrived the Etihad.
Guardiola made Iheanacho feel important and approved the extension of his deal to 2021 with a great promise to help develop the talent of the Super Eagles forward. Interestingly, he started Iheanacho in the first Manchester derby of the 2016/17 season at Old Trafford and the Nigerian grabbed the winner in that encounter which was the Red Devils first defeat of the season.
But the story has since changed for the young lad who was the only senior player to welcome the Spaniard to the Etihad on the day of his unveiling.
Iheanacho lost a lot of confidence from not being part of Guardiola’s starting line-up with Sergio Aguero the preferred starter and the situation went from bad to worse when Brazilian wonderkid, Gabriel Jesus arrived at the Etihad.
Jesus even took the spot of Aguero while Iheanacho was completely ruled out of the team – not what the Nigerian envisaged will happen in his second season at the club after a promising debut season.
Now, the only way for Iheanacho is to leave Manchester City for regular football as Guardiola is set to enter the transfer market this summer for strikers like Robert Lewandowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang which will greatly hinder the progress of the Nigerian if he stays at the club.
At 20, Iheanacho has a lot of football in him to still play but considering the fact that he is a vital part of Gernot Rohr’s Super Eagles and the 2018 World Cup is just a year away – he needs to be in top form and having enough game time could only enhance that.
Iheanacho’s representatives may struggle to find a club that can match his £85, 000 weekly wages. So the likely option left is to negotiation a loan deal where his parent club pays half of his wages.
At the moment, three clubs fancy acquiring the services of the Nigerian – Hoffenheim, West Ham and Everton Football Club
and in all modesty they are very good teams for Iheanacho to continue his football development.
However, Everton will suit him more than the other two clubs mentioned because they are built perfectly for the Nigerian to fit in effortless and blossom. The Toffees are set to lose top marksman, Romelu Lukaku who is angling for a move back to Chelsea with Diego Costa China bound.
Ronald Koeman has shown that he is fantastic with young talents and not afraid to give them a chance to excel. He also has the Barcelona history as a player with the tactical know-how of the Dutch style of coaching and his exploits with Feyenoord, Southampton and now Everton have put him in good stead to even aim higher.
Everton is an exciting side with some emerging new talents that Iheanacho can grow with, in remarkable fashion. In attack, he will be the number one pick if Lukaku eventually leaves the club and playing alongside Ross Barkley, Lookman Ademola, Kevin Mirallas and Enner Valencia will be super cool. MORE | Herrera beats de Gea, Zlatan to Man United POTY Award
West Ham United provides a different option in terms of how to approach the game while Hoffenheim is also a good side with a young manager doing great things but a different league and culture shock is not what Iheanacho needs at the moment with qualification for the 2018 World Cup just around the corner.
Iheanacho needs a settled place where he can focus 100% on just scoring goals and help the national team and Everton provides that option for the super talented Nigerian who won the CNN Goal of the Week with an outrageous strike in front of home fans last year.